Dong Valley: Witnessing India’s First Sunrise & Legacy of the 1962 War!

Namste! Today, I am in the serene Kaho Village of Arunachal Pradesh, standing right on the border with China and the Tibet Autonomous Region. This village is home to the highly endangered Meyor Tribe, with only around a thousand members left. Their stories are as captivating as the landscape they inhabit. Let me take you on a journey to the Dong Valley, where India witnesses its first sunrise and where the history and culture of the meyorTribe come alive.

Kaho vilage, Arunachal pradesh, India's first vilage
Kaho Village of Arunachal Pradesh(First Village of India)

A Journey to the Edge of India

Sunrise in kaho, arunachal pradesh
India’s First Sunrise at Kaho

How To Reach Dong Vally?

Do you know where India’s first sunrise occurs? As the name suggests, it’s in Arunachal Pradesh, the Land of the Dawn-Lit Mountains. People travel from far and wide to witness the first rays of the sun kissing India’s forehead in Dong Valley, located in the Ajao district. My journey, however, was driven by a different priority: to meet the unique meyor tribe and bring their stories to you.

Reaching Dong Valley is no easy feat. The nearest airport is in Dibrugarh, about 400 km away, and the nearest railway station is in Tinsukia, about 350 km away. Usually, I travel on a bike, but this trip was a sudden plan, so I borrowed a friend’s car and embarked on a 12 to 14-hour drive. Driving through the night, I enjoyed the beautiful sunrise early in the morning, took breaks on picturesque empty roads, and soaked in the beauty of the Lohit and the gorges’ valleys along the way. Finally, we reached the much-desired Long, from where a two-hour trek on foot was needed to reach Dong Valley and experience the first sunrise.

Getting to Dong Valley:

By Air: The closest airport is Dibrugarh Airport (DIB). However, keep in mind Dong Valley itself is quite remote, so further transportation will be required.
By Train: Tinsukia Junction (TSK) is the nearest train station. Similar to the airport, you’ll need to arrange onward travel to Dong Valley from Tinsukia.
By Road: This is the most common way to reach Dong Valley. You can take a taxi or shared cab from Dibrugarh or Tinsukia to Walong. From Walong, you’ll need to cross a suspension bridge over the Lohit River to reach the valley. Be aware that road conditions, particularly once you enter Arunachal Pradesh, can be challenging and the journey can take up to 9-10 hours.

Finding online booking options for Dong Valley can be limited. Here are some things to consider:

Homestays: This is the most likely option for accommodation in Dong Valley. Inquire with locals or your transportation provider about homestay options upon arrival.
Camping: Camping is another option, but be sure to come prepared with all necessary equipment and permits.
Remember: Due to Dong Valley’s remote location, it’s wise to be flexible with your expectations and plan ahead as much as possible.

Dong Valley: A Land of Bamboo and War

War memorial, Arunachal Pradesh, India, LOC
War Memorial at Walong

In the Mishmi dialect, ‘Wa’ means bamboo, and ‘Long’ means place or land, making this area known as the Land of Bamboo. However, it’s hard to believe that this beautiful bamboo land was once a war zone. Behind me stood Namati, where the first bullet of the 1962 India-China War was fired. Namati Maidan, just a short distance from Long, was the site of fierce battles between India and China. Despite our brave army’s tremendous efforts, the war ended in defeat, but their sacrifice ensured we could save this beautiful part of India. Today, there’s an army cantonment in Long, given its proximity to the Line of Actual Control (LAC). Every evening, a sound and light show at the memorial recounts the bravery and sacrifice of our soldiers.

Listening to these stories filled me with immense pride. This valley is home to the Mishmi and meyor tribes. The meyor tribe, primarily Buddhist, is critically endangered. More than witnessing the first sunrise, my interest lay in uncovering the stories and culture of this tribe to ensure their heritage continues to shine bright.

Meeting the Meyor Tribe

The next morning, despite the early morning chill, I ventured out to meet the meyor people. Kaho is the first Indian village in Arunachal Pradesh and one of the easternmost villages in India, along with Kibithu. The brutal 1962 war separated many meyor families, with some remaining on the Chinese side of the border.

I reached the house of a village elder, whose beautiful home left me in awe. Living in a place where China is clearly visible is a unique experience. The elder recounted how, before the war, Tibetans oppressed the meyor people, beating them for minor mistakes and confiscating their land in the name of taxes. After enduring atrocities for a hundred years, the meyorfound their situation much improved in India.

The stories of crossing criss-crossed mountain ropes to bring back heavy luggage from China were fascinating. As we roamed the village, we reached the home of the oldest member, who shared how life changed after moving to India. The people still remember the days of struggle and survival, but their resilience and spirit shine through.

Sunrise and Serenity

Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t on our side, and I couldn’t witness the first sunrise due to the rain. Nevertheless, the evenings were spent singing songs and enjoying the warmth of the village’s hospitality. Despite the challenges, the experience was unforgettable. Dong Valley, with its untouched beauty and rich history, is worth every effort to visit.

The hot springs here, though with less water in winters, are a delight to visit. It’s said that the best time to visit Dong is from April to July when the chances of seeing a clear sunrise are higher. However, the sheer beauty of the place makes it a worthwhile destination anytime.

Travel Tips for Dong Valley

  1. Travel Preparations: Ensure you have all necessary permits to visit Arunachal Pradesh. The journey is long, so plan your travel route carefully, considering the nearest airport and railway station.
  2. Best Time to Visit: April to July offers the best chance to witness a clear sunrise. However, be prepared for unpredictable weather.
  3. Stay Warm: The mornings and evenings can be quite chilly, so pack warm clothing.
  4. Respect the Culture: The meyor tribe’s traditions and stories are precious. Be respectful and open-minded while interacting with them.
  5. Enjoy the Journey: The drive and trek to Dong Valley are part of the adventure. Take breaks, enjoy the scenic beauty, and immerse yourself in the experience.

Read detailed Dong Valley Travel Guide blog


Dong Valley, with its breathtaking landscapes, profound history, and rich culture, offers an experience like no other. From the awe-inspiring first sunrise in India to the poignant stories of the meyor tribe, this journey has been both enlightening and humbling. The resilience and spirit of the meyor people, living on the edge of India, are truly inspiring. Despite the challenges of reaching this remote region, every moment spent in Dong Valley is worth it. As I delve deeper into the lives and traditions of the meyor tribe, I am reminded of the beauty and diversity that India holds within its borders. I invite you to embark on this journey, to witness the first sunrise, and to immerse yourself in the captivating stories of this incredible land. Don’t forget to subscribe to ShivaTells for more such adventures. Until next time, keep exploring and embracing the wonders of our world.

Khushiyan always! (Happiness always!)

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